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Black Friday / Cyber Monday – are you ready to sell?

By Tim Fuell - November 15, 2013

In two weeks time, those in the know expect the busiest time of the year in USA retail with the knock-on effect to the UK and across the globe expected to be strong too.

Friday 29th November 2013 is Black Friday. Black Friday is traditionally the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States and seen as the start of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have celebrated extended opening hours and massive savings on big ticket items, similar to the Boxing Day sales many retailers used to push in the UK.

In the UK, the sale culture is somewhat awash in difficult economic times, with many sales starting pre-Christmas and because the web is a global marketplace, expect many to piggy back on the Black Friday phenomena in the next fortnight. Whilst Black Friday is not a public holiday in all states, many take the day off with family to browse the malls. In recent years however, browse has been the operative word with many just window shopping and then looking to get an even bigger bargain online. Step forward Cyber Monday. With Thanksgiving behind them, the following Monday has become the peak of online retail traffic in the USA. People comparing Black Friday deals, others just getting into the festive shopping spirit log on and spend. It’s not just the USA either, Cyber Monday has proven popular in the UK too in recent years so online retailers in the UK will be expecting to see a spike in traffic too.

So what about you? Are you ready for an increase in Christmas shoppers? Is your site ready to offer an enhanced Christmas shopping experience? Here’s our 6 top tips on making your site ready for some Santa-stic sales.

1. Review your site

Sound obvious? When did you last do it then? Check links, check spellings, check grammar. Just check it. Try it on mobile, on desktop on tablets. Does’t it all work. Can your customers buy in pleasure? If not you have two weeks to tweak it up and improve your user experience and that customer journey.

2 Buy something via your site

Yes, act as a customer. As part of your review the customer experience should be high on the agenda. A happy customer who finds it easy to buy is far more likely to give you a testimonial or share something positive via social networks and that sort of traffic can be invaluable in the modern world.

3 Check your stock

It’s great to know people can technically buy your products, but can they physically? What’s the lead time on any replenishment of stock for you? Remember come Cyber Monday you will have just a few weeks to get that stock in your hands and off out to your customer to give as a Christmas present. Be realistic – carrying too much stock can be a killer to a business, but also have a plan B scoped out in case you need to re-order from third parties.

4 Build a great offer

The biggest criticism you will hear from people about sales, is that it is just the ‘unwanted tat’ being discounted so there is no real saving as nobody wanted it anyway. A great offer will convert additional sales and also probably bring in new traffic too, so it pays to get it right. Be realistic and offer something that is already popular but one you can afford to reduce your profit margin on. Be careful though. Loss leaders work for big supermarkets but for most retailers they are prone to disaster. If you aren’t making an profit on it, what’s the point? There may be a few to be tempted to but other things, but if there is a big price differential between your sale item and others, they may also think twice. It is a difficult balance to strike, so it makes sense to make sure every product makes you at least some money.

5 Promote your offer and your site

If traffic is likely to be up from Cyber Monday in terms of Christmas sales, then make sure you are part of it. Look out for #cybermonday style hashtags on social media. Consider some online advertising such as Google Adwords. Make sure you spend time too engaging with your social followings. Plan an email roll-out too. The more people who know about your offers the more sales you are likely to make, so build that into your plan – even the best products won’t sell themselves.

6 Check out competitors

You may not be able to get an insight into what their Christmas plans are yet but you can certainly compare your offering to theirs and see where you may need to improve or add. It shouldn’t be in terms of copying and making sure you have the same products either. Difference is good – especially at Christmas when for many people quirky is better. However, knowing your competition is key if you are to be more successful in your business or you risk potential customers going to them instead.

Don’t worry if you feel you are off the pace. There’s still two weeks between now and Cyber Monday when the traffic hits a peak and will be strong for the run in to Christmas. That’s ages in online terms and with a structured plan and a bit of toil, anything is possible. Good luck.